North Korea announces dog hide tax ahead of Party Foundation Day

Party Foundation Day 2016 in North Korea. Image: Daily NK file photo

North Korea has ordered the collection of “dog hides” to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10.

“With a little under a month left before Party Foundation Day, an order was issued by the Party for the collection of dog hides, or money as an alternative for those who do not raise dogs,” a source in North Hamgyong Province said.  

North Korea collects dog hides every year around this time to “raise funds for the Party.” Children are instead encouraged to collect rabbit hides. Although the government is officially “purchasing” the hides from its citizens, the annual operation is technically another tax on its people as there is no compensation given.

The practice of collecting dog hides has been going on for decades. However, the monetary tax has increased for those who cannot provide the dog hides, affecting the majority of North Koreans.

“Although the Party is asking for dog hides, there are not many houses that have the luxury of raising a dog when it’s hard enough just to feed their families. And those who are employed at companies have to pay the tax twice,” a source in Ryanggang Province reported.

One dog is considered to be equivalent to the price of 4 kilos of rice at 5000 KPW/kg. This equates to 20,000 KPW for those who can’t acquire dog hide. Until 2014, citizens were only required to pay 10,000 KPW, however, despite the price of rice, the most important staple in North Korea, staying roughly the same, the dog hide tax has doubled.

The tax is required to be individually paid to factories, businesses, and the People’s Unit, resulting in many having to double their contributions.   

According to another report from an additional source in Ryanggang Province, those at rural farms were only asked to pay 170 RMB (28,000 KPW), and weren’t required to pay the tax multiple times. However, ordinary workers in the region are still required to pay the aforementioned 20,000 KPW to both their company and the inminban (people’s unit, a type of neighborhood watch).

“The leader of the inminban is making the rounds throughout the entire village, demanding residents to pay the dog hide tax. Those who don’t have the means to pay have taken to locking their doors and leaving their houses whenever they hear the inminban leader is around,” she added.

However, exceptions for the tax are rare. People’s unit leaders have been tracking down delinquents in the middle of the night, berating them for being unable to pay the tax and pressuring them to borrow money instead.

Even before the dog hide tax in Ryanggang Province, there were other taxes to support construction projects in Hyesan and Samjiyon, adding to the increasing burden being felt by people living in the region.

*Translated by Brian Boyle